If you discover that someone posted either photos or videos of you or your family on a social media site without your permission, the first thing to know is that it is illegal. Keep in mind that every platform has a different privacy policy, so the individual that posts may think they did nothing wrong.

However, if the images or videos belong to you, there are three ways that you can take control, including citing invasion of privacy, defamation, and a violation of right of publicity. Just like social media site policies, these three methods of recourse are unique. For help in navigating through them or to proceed with an actual lawsuit, contact a qualified attorney.

  1. Invasion of Privacy – If the person who posted in a way that portrays you falsely or in an offensive manner, then you can take the appropriate action. For instance, if your local sheriff’s department has a “Ten Most Wanted” list and someone adds your photo to it, that would be an invasion of privacy. Another example is using your photograph to create a page on a pornographic website. Although taking a photo of you in a public setting is not an invasion of privacy, if the person captures you in your home and then uses it on social media without your consent, you have legal recourse. An attorney may classify this type of action as defamation as well.
  2. Defamation – To prove defamation, the photo posted by someone else on a social media site would have to defame you. That means the image would harm your reputation or create a false impression of you. If an individual or company uses a photo or video that makes it appear you committed a crime when, in fact, you did not, and you or your business suffered as a result, that would fall into the category of defamation.
  3. Right of Publicity – In this case, someone uses a photo of you for commercial purposes. In other words, if that individual posts your image to promote a product or service online or as an endorsement on a business site without your permission, he or she has violated your right of publicity. For this type of violation to occur, the public must be able to identify you in the photo used.

Because all the major social media sites, including Facebook, Twitter, and others collect data about their users all the time, a situation where your image or a video shows up can be somewhat confusing. By hiring an attorney who specializes in this issue, he or she can investigate and research to determine if you are in a position to take legal action.

If you find your image or a video posted that you did not authorize, you might try to reach out to the individual who posted it if you know who it is and demand they remove it. If that person refuses, you can then take a legal stance. For more information or you find yourself in this situation, never feel embarrassed about contacting a reputable attorney. Remember that this happens to people all too often, so you are not alone in the fight.